In California, CalArts, Pixar’s talent factory

Being a giant of the American film industry crowned with twenty-three Oscars and ten Golden Globes does not prevent you from having a sense of humor. At the Pixar studio headquarters in Emeryville, across from San Francisco, California, the approximately 1,300 employees are used to connecting to the A113 Wi-Fi network.

This name owes nothing to chance. It’s a nod to insiders, a reference to the number of a classroom of about thirty square meters located on level – 1 of the CalArts art school, located in Santa Clarita, in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

At Pixar, A113 is everywhere. On the Wi-Fi network, therefore, but also in films, as an essential detail. In Roman numerals in Rebel, in graffiti in Vice versa… In Toy Story, it’s the license plate number of the hero’s mother’s car; In Toy Story 2, an announcement for flight A113 of the fictitious company LassetAir resounds in an airport. In Ratatouille, Git, the lab rat, has the number tattooed in his ear and, in The world of Nemo, the diver’s camera is a model A113. All this in reference to the hall of an art school.

“In my day, A113 was the computer room. She was in the basement, which was fully tagged. Kinds of fantastical catacombs that either caused terror or inspiration,” remembers Peter Sohn, the director ofElementary, Pixar’s latest creation (in theaters June 21), presented at the closing of the Cannes Film Festival this year. In his film, A113 appears on a subway billboard.

Like many Pixar employees, the former CalArts student paid tribute to his “alma mater”, literally his “foster mother”, that is to say the university which trained him. It is impossible to know precisely the share of employees of the prestigious studio who come from the animation section of CalArts, but, of the twenty-six feature films produced by Pixar since the release of Toy Story, in 1995, eighteen were made by former students of the school, “CalArtians”as they call each other.

A school founded by Walt Disney

CalArts provides teaching in all artistic fields to nearly 1,500 students each year: sculpture, theater, art history… But the most famous section is that devoted to animation, considered as the way royal in the sector. The transition to the Santa Clarita campus is the first step in a secure career. CalArts is the best school and Pixar the most prestigious studio. The link therefore makes sense. And old.

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